A Picture Tells A Thousand Stories

April 17, 2017

In my quest to educate our youth on internet and social media safety and digital literacy understanding that people may not necessarily represent who they truly say they are online, is one of those baseline safety rules that all need to understand and respect. This is especially important when interacting with people who you have never met with face-to-face online. It is not uncommon for criminals, online predators, or cappers to utilize false information and pictures when creating social networks. These pictures are designed to help build rapport with their intended target. This is a part of the grooming process that has been used by those wishing to victimize others, both online and offline, for years. Often, people who will create a false social network will not want to use a real picture that identifies who they are. Instead, they will use pictures of others as a way to cloak their true identity. One way to remove this veil of deceit is to compare a subject’s profile picture, or any pictures on their social network, against the powerful photo-index of Google Images. Google Images contains the largest repository of pictures that have been posted online and therefore can be a useful tool in proving or disproving one’s true identity. This is especially important for teens who may be deciding to friend a person who they don’t really know, or an adult who is using a dating App or wishing to conduct business with a new client they have met online. I will use Facebook as an example:

STEP #1: Go to the Profile page of the person who you considering friending, following or meeting with

Step #2:

Place your mouse cursor over the subject Profile picture, and click on the profile picture, which should take you to this screen

Step #3 Place your mouse over the picture and right click, which should look like this:

Step #4 Click on “Copy Image Address

Step #5 In a new tab, go to “Google Images” and click on the camera icon

Step #6 paste the link copy from the picture above into the “Paste Image URL” box and then click “Search by image” box

Google will now compare the picture that you submitted against its image data bank, and a few seconds later it will provide one of two messages; “best guess” or “visually similar”. If this message appears it means that the picture posted was not “likely” copied from somewhere else online. Notice I said “likely”

If Google does find the image elsewhere on the internet, it will also include a category called “Pages that include matching images

Step #7:

Click on the links located in the “Pages that include matching images” In this example it is a YouTube video:

In the YouTube video you can see that the name associated with the icon picture and the account is “Swalef Alyoum” who appears to live in the Middle East. On Facebook however, the name associated with the same icon picture is “Jack Seven” One profile picture, two social networks, associated with two different names………….. DANGER DANGER DANGER !!!! With everything that is being posted online, we who use the internet need to be more critical of the information being posted, and really asking ourselves, “is what I’m reading and viewing online real or true?” This is even more important when it comes to interacting with people who we have never met with face-to-face in the real world. Using Google Images is but one of many ways to fact check images to ensure their authenticity, thus helping to confirm one’s true identity. Remember, online a picture really can tell a thousand stories – mostly good, but sometimes bad.

Darren The White Hatter

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